Order and Disorder

Sheila Heti’s new book, Alphabetical Diaries, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February, is just that—rearranged sentences in order from A to Z made up of the author’s diaries kept over the course of a decade. By placing previously composed sentences into this structure, patterns emerge, and unexpected juxtapositions reveal fresh connections that form a new kind of narrative. “Basically it’s a crazy year, that’s what Claire said, this is going to be a crazy year. Be a pro, Lemons said. Be a woman. Be an individual, he suggested. Be bald-faced and strange. Be calm,” Heti writes. Take this idea of reordering your writing and use sentences from a story you’ve written in the past to create a new story. Experiment with different constraints, whether alphabetizing or grouping by another type of category, perhaps using recurring images or places. See where these arrangements take you.